Who was Silvio O. Conte?
Silvio Ottavio Conte (November 9, 1921 – February 8, 1991) was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives for 16 terms, from January 3, 1959, until his death. Born to Italian immigrants in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, he represented Massachusetts's first congressional district for seventeen consecutive terms. Conte attended Pittsfield Vocational High School, graduating in 1940. He served in the United States Navy during World War II from 1942 to 1944, then attended Boston College and Boston College Law School under the G. I. Bill receiving a law degree (LL.B.) in 1949. Conte returned to Pittsfield and immediately turned his attention to politics. Conte was elected to the Massachusetts Senate in 1950 and served from 1951 to 1958. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1958, defeating James M. Burns, a professor at Williams College. Conte was appointed to the House Appropriations Committee, a seat that he would keep for his entire congressional career. The Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut is named in his honor. He also secured funding for a polymer research center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The Silvio O. Conte National Center for Polymer Research at UMass Amherst was named in Conte's honor, as was Building 49 of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A passionate advocate for federal funded research through the NIH, the Institutes continue to honor him today with grants for neurological research awarded in his name and several university-based Silvio O. Conte Centers for neuroscience research.The National Archives located on Dan Fox Drive in Pittsfield is named after Conte, and West Side Elementary School in west Pittsfield was renamed Silvio O. Conte Community School after his death.